Narcissism: A certain amount of a narcissistic attitude is healthy. Everyone needs encouragement and a belief in themselves. It’s important to be able to take pride in one’s achievements and accept other people’s appreciation of you. However, this has to be realistic; based on the knowledge that you have done something good, but that there are also things that you do not do so well.
This realism is what narcissists lack. A narcissist really thinks that everything they do is right, and better than anyone else. They cannot make sense of information which contradicts this, so they deny it. They tend to experience other people as either part of their admiring gang or if not, that the other person is doing something bad to them. This kind of narcissism is actually quite a primitive state of mind, and is hard for others to make sense of. It is not a choice or a conscious way of being.
Such narcissism is often well hidden. Successful narcissists, and there are lots, are also very clever. It can take a while before other people realise that the clever narcissist cannot be disagreed with, partly because they are not often wrong.
There are degrees of narcissism. A clever narcissist will have learned to hide the extent of the narcissism they struggle with. What other people see does not necessarily reflect the level of narcissism in someone.
So, narcissism can be hard to see, but can show in many different ways.
Here are a few general points:
Finally, it is important to remember that however difficult it is to be around a narcissist, they are probably not doing it on purpose. And probably, they are unlikely to change.
Words : Dr Jan McGregor Hepburn.
Jan is a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and part of the team at nscience.uk. Her new book, Shame & Guilt, is published by nscience Publishing.